Below is a list of some of the incredible species of rare and unique Kimberley fauna. You will see many of these remarkable creatures on your journey along the Gibb River Road, or as you travel to the Mitchell Falls & Kulumburu.
KIMBERLEY FAUNA: REPTILES
Geckos - Are small and mostly nocturnal lizards that feed on worms, or insects. They either have sharp claws to assist them in climbing or suckers. Others possess both claws and suckers. Their average length of this Kimberley Fauna is about 6 inches, and their colours are variable. The spiny tailed Gecko (pictured in the photo to the right) is very rare. As you can see it is beautifully marbled in either brown or blackish patterns, and is active in the daytime. (Photo courtesy of Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge)
Frill Necked Lizards - May attain a length of 3 feet and is remarkable for it's pointed snout and the frill around it's neck, (which it displays if threatened). This type of Kimberley Fauna has a slender body, long legs and a tail. A remarkable character of the Kimberley bush. They can often be seen rising on their hind legs and running in an erect posture for a considerable distance.
Merten's Water Monitors - Similar to goannas, but this type of Kimberley Fauna is predominantly black in colouration and thinner in shape. They can often be seen sunning themselves on rock ledges beside rivers or water holes. They spend their life in water, or on rocks close to water rather than on land. They are generally vary of people and will dive into the water for safety if you get too close to them.(Photo courtesy of Lochman Transperencies)
Blue Tongue Lizards - Can grow to a size of up to 40cm. It is Australia's largest 'skink'. This extremely slow and sluggish type of Kimberley Fauna is usually grey in colouration with dark cross bands. The limbs are very short in comparison to their long head, body and tail. If they feel threatened they open up their mouth very wide exposing a bright blue tongue and mouth. They spend their life crawling around on their bellies scavenging for food - hunting smaller lizards and insects.(Photo courtesy of Lochman Transperencies)
Fresh water crocodiles: Most of the fresh water rivers and creeks in the Kimberley are home to a fresh water crocodile. This type of Kimberley Fauna is relatively harmless - Fresh water crocodiles will not attack you if you go for a swim, but you should still act with caution around them by respecting their territory. They are usually afraid of people and normally swim away if you get to close to them, or dive into the river when they see you walking close by. If you happen to see a fresh water crocodile on the banks of a creek or in a river that does not act in the above manner, then do not approach it, or go for a swim in that area. Fresh water crocodiles do not normally grow much bigger then 40cm in length. They eat small fish and birds. (Photo courtesy of lochman Transperencies)
Banded Tree Snakes - A beautiful nocturnal snake that is non-venemous. It has brown-orange and white bands running along it's body and beautiful yellow eyes that look just like a tigers eyes - which has given this species the nickname 'night tiger'. This type of Kimberley Fauna spends it's night-life in tree branches hunting small birds and frogs.(Photo courtesy of Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge)
Olive Pythons - Deep 'olive' Coloured Snake. Non-Venemous. Nocturnal. Thick body, and slow moving. This type of Kimberley Fauna can grow quite long - up to 80cm. Normally found curled up in a tight ball during the day time in a log.(Photo courtesy of lochman Transperencies)
King Brown Snakes - This type of Kimberley Fauna is venemous. They are harmless if left unprovoked. Do not corner them or approach them. If they sense you walking near them they will normally slither away before you get to them. They are most active in August/September when they start out on their migratory routes. They are long and can grow up to 2 metres in length, they have thick powerful bodies, and thick short heads. They can range from golden brown, tan, to dark brown in colouration. (Photo courtesy of Lochman Transperencies)
'Golden' or 'Green' Tree Snakes - Golden or green coloured Snake that is very fast moving. Spends a lot of it's time in trees during the day time, but can also be seen moving from tree to tree along the ground. Non-venemous. This species of Kimberley Fauna is often mistaken as a brown snake - but it has a much thinner body, and a much smaller head, that is normally whitish in coloration with a dark blue tinge.(Photo courtesy of lochman Transperencies)
Black Whip Snakes - Long thin jet black snake. Venemous. They normally slither away very quickly if they see you. They prefer areas of thick scrub, and long dense grass.
Goannas - The largest species can grow up to 70cm in length. They have long tongues, thick powerful tails, and strong limbs with thick claws. They spend their life in trees robbing birds nest for eggs, in underground burrows, or crawling along the ground in search of smaller lizards, insects and birds to feed on. They can also swim, but usually only dive into the water if they feel threatened. Despite their size and strength, they are generally very vary of humans, so if you are on a bushwalk and hear something large and noisy running through the brush near you, it is probabally a goanna trying to run away and hide.(Photo courtesy of Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge)
Black Headed Pythons - You might see these snakes crossing over the road in front of your car from time to time (particularly around black soil country). They are long (up to 1.5 metres in length) non-venemous, and have a black shiny head with Light and Dark Brown bands across their body.(Photo courtesy of Lochman Transperencies)
Saltwater Crocodiles-The saltwater crocodile is an apex predator which will hunt any animal in its territory, both on the water and land. An immensely powerful animal that lies in the water or basks in the sun through much of the day, primarily hunting at night. They are capable of moving with great speed, especially when launching an attack from the water. Salt water crocodiles are extremely dangerous and can be found some distance upstream of fresh water rivers and estauries with a salt water inlet. General rule of thumb: If there is barrumundi in the river - there are normally salt water crocodiles. You should not swim or use a small boat/canoe in estauries, tidal rivers, or mangrove shores, especially around Derby, Wyndham, Walsh Point (Mitchell Plateau) and Kununurra. It should be noted that the main swimming holes and rivers around the station-stays, gorges and campgrounds along the Gibb River Road are 'land locked' which means they do not have any saltwater crocodiles in them, so you can swim at all of these locations safely. Except for Windjana Gorge - swimming is not recommended here due to the number of fresh water crocs.(Photo courtesy of Lochman Transperencies)
Children's Python - Non venomous snake that grows to an average length of 75 cm. It occurs primarily throughout the Kimberley region, Northern Territory and Northwestern Queensland.(Photo courtesy of lochman Transperencies)
Other reptiles you might see on your journey throughout the Kimberley region include:
Knob-tailed Gekkos, Military Dragons, Fire Tail Lizards,Carpet Snakes (non-venemous), Rainbow Skinks, and Stimpson's Pythons (non-venemous).
These are just a few of the many species of reptiles recorded in the Kimberley region. General Rule of thumb: If a snake can climb a tree it is non-venemous.
KIMBERLEY FAUNA: MARSUPIALS
Antilopine Kangaroos/Common Wallaroos - The prevailing colour of this animal is grey, but red varieties in both male and female individuals are known. Slender and Long Limbed, this is the largest Kangaroo in the Kimberley. Usually seen on open plains, or in dense areas of vegetation. Fairly inactive during the day time in the dry season, usually resting in the shade of a tree, or around a waterhole. Moves out to graze in the later afternoon, night, and early morning. Unfortunately, they are a rare site to see these days, along the Gibb River Road. A kangaroo virus was introduced to the species by some Americans in the 1960's, to try and stop the kangaroos from eating the sorghum they were growing around the lower Fitzroy region. This virus almost completely obliterated the entire kangaroo population in the Kimberley. Fortunately other species of native wallabies were not affected by the virus. Ironically, not a grain of sorghum was ever put through the processing plant in Broome - the industry did not prove profitable, and the concept was abandoned.(Photo courtesy Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge)
Northern Nail-Tailed Wallabies - Small slender wallaby with a very thin tail. It has short, thick fur that is a rich sandy-fawn colour, with a dark band running down the centre of it's back. A type of Kimberley fauna that is active between dusk and dawn, can be seen in open woodland with a grassy understorey.
Western Australian Rock Wallabies, Short-eared Rock Wallabies - When exploring the gorges or rocky outcrops along the Gibb River Road you are sure to see this type of Kimberley Fauna sitting on a rock in the shade, or jumping across rocky outcrops with spectacular speed and agility. Their deep tan/grey colouration allows them to camoflague very well with the shadows, and shades of rock crevices and cliffs.(Photo courtesy of lochman Transperencies)
Euros - A larger, stout and powerful wallaby, which is found mostly in the hilly districts and rocky outcrops along the Gibb River Road, and throughout the Kimberley. Prefers rocky overhangs with caves or ledges where it can escape the heat. Can survive without frequent access to water if it has access to refuges from the sun and food plants with sufficent water content. Colour can vary from tan, to dark brown to black.
Dingoes - The national parks & wildlife reserves in the Kimberley region are one of the last places on Earth where the dingo can live freely in it's natural habitat, without being shot or baited by humans. Since the 1960's this creature has gained an aggressive reputation primarily as a result of media exaggeration and distortion. The wild dingo is naturally shy and reserved and will avoid humans. As a result they do not attack people unprovoked, and are solitary, independent creatures. The dingo is entrenched in aboriginal folk law and spirit, and helps keeps Australia's eco-system in balance, as it is Australia's top land predator. They are native to Australia and have lived here for up to 10000 years, but evolved over 135000 years ago. Their colouration can vary from light to deep tan, to black and tan, to white. It is very important that you do not feed any dingoes you may see around camp grounds in the kimberley - they are wild animals and luring them into human areas by offering them food will only encourage them to become dependent on humans.(Photo courtesy of Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge)
Golden Bandicoots - A rare and endangered species of bandicoot whose general colour is a rich golden brown, pencilled with black. A nocturnal creature, that forages amongst thick areas of vegetation for insects, figs, seeds and other bush fruits. It seeks shelter in small conical diggings or in limestone caves. Secure populations are known to still exist throughout the Kimberley around the Mitchell Plateau, Barrow Island, Mt Hart and the Prince Regent Nature Reserve.(Photo courtesy of lochman Transperencies)
Golden Backed Tree Rats - Nocturnal rat that lives in trees and forages around on the ground. Grows up to 20cm - Gray/white speckled colouration with a dark gold stripe down it's back. Eats berries, seeds, nuts, flowers, & insects. Practically extinct, this species has been found recently living in colonies around Mt Hart, the Mitchell Plateau, plus some uninhabited coastal areas and islands around the Kimberley Region.(Photo courtesy of Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge)
Northern Quolls - Also called a 'native cat'. These creatures are small in size, coloured dark brown and have white spots over their back, with a white belly. They are nocturnal, have a long brushy tail, and can climb trees. Found in most habitats around the Kimberley they also often live around man made dwellings. Most abundant in broken rocky country with sparse vegetation cover. Its diet is varied as it eats insects, small lizards, smaller mammals, a variety of figs and other bush fruits. The mother carries her 1-8 young around for up to 10 weeks on each available nipple.(Photo courtesy of Lochman Transperencies)
Native Echidna - A small egg laying mammal covered with coarse hairs and spikes over it's back & sides. They have an elongated, thin snout for eating insects such as ants and termites. They use their long, sticky tongue to collect their prey. When threatened they curl up into a tight ball, relying on their spikes to protect them from attack by potential predators such as cats, foxes, eagles and dingoes.(Photo courtesy of lochman Transperencies)
Agile Wallabies - This is the most common wallaby you will see in the Kimberley. A robust animal that is sandy in coloration with a white belly. Generally found in the shade of dense vegetation, open forests and in the long grass beside creeks. This species is gregarious and can live in groups up to 10. It received it's name from the extremely nimble manner in which it covers ground when it is alarmed. It is a very alert, and nervous animal, that grazes on figs, native grasses, bush fruits and shrub leaves.(Photo courtesy of Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge)
Sugar Glider-A nocturnal fast moving, small marsupial around 15 to 20 cm in length, with a long brushy tail, grey fur with black and cream patches on the underbelly, and black ears. Features twin skin membranes with a thin sheet of fur surrounding them, that extend from the fifth finger of the forelimb back to the first toe of the hind foot. This species uses these membranes to glide between trees and to gather food while hunting. They also use their gliding ability to escape predators such as goannas, foxes, cats, quolls, and dingoes. These membranes allow the sugar glider to glide for a considerable distance(over 50 metres). When landing, they catch on to branches using the sharp claws on their feet and thumbs. (Photo courtesy of Lochman Transperencies)
Other marsupials you might encounter on your journey through the kimberley region include: Common Opossum, Ring-tailed opossum, Large beaver rats, Pigmy mice, Jerboa mice, Tunney's rat, Woodwards Rat, Flying Foxes, Horse-shoe Bats, Sugar Gliders, Rock Rats, Water rats.
These are just of few of the many species of marsupials recorded in the Kimberley region
KIMBERLEY FAUNA: AMPHIBIANS
Many species of frogs edemic to the Kimberley region, spend a great deal of time underground during the dry season months, where they prepare neat little burrows with firm walls. They emerge from their burrows and awake from a state of hibernation, after a shower of rain, during the wet season. Their coloration allows them to camoflague perfectly with their surroundings. During the wet season if you stand by a waterhole you can usually hear the frogs croaking all around you, but you cannot so easily see them. Often if you disturb the water or come too close to them, they will immediately cease croaking and remain quiet until you leave the area, then resume their bush orchestra.
The Magnificent Tree Frog - This species can only be found within the Kimberley region of Western Australia. They are nocturnal - emerging at dusk to hunt at night and resting in caves and rock crevices during the day.This species is also regularly found living around human dwellings especially in toilets, showers and water tanks. This is a relatively large tree frog, reaching an average length of 4 inches. They can be easily distinguished by the white or sulphur-coloured dots on their back. (Photo courtesy of Lochman Transperencies)
Green Tree Frog - This large vivid green coloured frog, is native to Northern and Eastern Australia, and lives around still waterholes throughout the Kimberleys. It is extremely docile, and can often be found living around human dwellings particularly in showers, toilets and water tanks. This is one of the largest species of Australian frog and has been known to grow up to 4 inches in length. They are nocturnal, and wake up at dusk to hunt at night. During the day they find cool, dark, and damp places to rest. Their diet consists primarily of insects, smaller frogs and small mammals (photo courtesy of Lochman Transperencies).
Burrowing Frogs - The majority of species of burrowing frogs endemic to the kimberley region hibernate underground for the majority of the dry season. They emerge from their underground 'burrows' to feed and mate during the wet season. During this time they lay their eggs in temporary pools of water formed by the heavy rains. There are many species of burrowing frogs endemic to the Kimberley region including; the Northern Burrowing Frog, and the ornate burrowing frog (pictured in the photograph to the right). These species prefer subtropical habitats such as dry shrublands, lowland grasslands, and freshwater marshes (photo courtesy of Lochman Transperencies).
The Desert Tree Frog- A small, rotund frog with a flat head, short arms, and strong, short legs. In the Kimberley this species breeds annually during the wet season when rain occurs. During the dry season Desert Tree Frogs do not burrow beneath the ground to avoid heat, rather they seek out shelter under rocks, trees and leaf litter (Photo Courtesy of Lochman Transperencies).
Wotjulum Frogs (also known as 'Giant or Large Rocketfrogs') - Wotjulum Frogs prefer subtropical or tropical climates including dry forests, moist lowland forests, swamps, rivers, freshwater lakes & marshes, and rocky areas. You can see many examples of this type of Kimberley Fauna at Tunnel Creek. They are usually sitting around the rocks at the edge of the water in the cave system. They jump on the surface of the water very quickly like a 'rocket' to get away from fish beneath the surface (Photo Courtesty of Lochman Transperencies).
Rock-Hole Frogs - A small frog darkish in coloration, that prefers to live in rocky areas near water courses & damp caves throughout The Kimberley. They can also be found throughout dry shrubland, rivers, and freshwater marshes (Photo Courtesy of Lochman Transperencies).
These are just a few of the many species of amphibians endemic to the Kimberley region
CLICK HERE FOR: MORE INFORMATION ON KIMBERLEY FAUNA - FROGS
Many of the photos on this page were kindly donated for use by "Lochman Transperencies" - which is an invaluable source of general stock Australian widlife photographs.“Lochman Transparencies” is an Australian based Picture Library established by wildlife photographers Jiri & Marie Lochman, who have continued to run the agency since 1986. If you would like to view more Kimberley or Australian wildlife images please visit their website via the following link:
Lochman Transperencies Website